Thursday, May 3, 2012

Our first year with 'Moonie'

Having only recently decided to 'blog' our adventures, we are having to track the movements of the first year retrospectively, which is not ideal, but unavoidable.

We have spent so much time either cruising or pottering about at the marina (which is only 30 minutes drive from home), we couldn't possibly remember it all, but we have spent many days, weekends and even just summer evenings with a bottle of wine sitting in the cratch enjoying a wind down from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. So you can probably work out that so far we have no regrets whatsoever about getting out of shared ownership and purchasing our own boat - the freedom is priceless.

Our first trip was a weekend run down to Mercia Marina to have 'Moonie' blacked. It was three years since she was last out of the water. We also had the gunwales re-painted at the same time as they were looking a bit shabby. Justin and his team did a great job for us.

Easter, and a gleaming boat, and we were off on our first 'holiday' of the year - a trip down onto the River Soar to Leicester before returning back up the Trent & Mersey to our base. Lots of friends and family met us along the way and had a 'free boat trip'. We really enjoyed the Soar and intend to return sooner rather than later. 

Tattenhill Lock
The end of May, and we headed off along the Staffs & Worcs and onto the Shroppie, getting just beyond Shebdon Embankment before making the return trip. Two very different canals, but both very enjoyable. We shall remember the meal we had at the Wharf Tavern at Shebdon for some time - a bigger pie you will struggle to find. When we ordered, the landlord replied with 'Hungry are we ?? ' You can see why !!! The chips and onion rings came seperately !! We managed without a pudding.

Not for those of a nervous disposition
The last two weeks of July saw us embark on our longest trip of the year. We had been thwarted by flooding the previous year on the River Avon and so we were determined to complete it this time. We travelled the length of the Staffs & Worcs to Stourport and then down the River Severn to Tewkesbury. Just as we were about to enter Tewkesbury Lock, we had a chance meeting with one of our old 'shared' boats, Marbury. Aboard, were our friends Steve and Trish together with their family. As it was quiet, the lock keeper allowed us to moor on the lock landing for half an hour as we showed them round 'Moonie' before we headed our seperate ways. It was great to see them.

Blue Moon & Marbury together at Tewkesbury
We were absolutely taken by the River Avon - what a beautiful waterway. The work which has gone into opening it up again is fully justified and although a licence is not cheap, we thought it was worth every penny and we shall certainly be heading back there in the future. We travelled all the way up to Stratford and then back home through Birmingham, taking the shorter route via Knowle. A thoroughly enjoyable trip.

Moored outside the RSC Stratford
A short break back at work (ugghhh !!), and we were off again on our final 'holiday' of the year at the end of August. We took a short trip towards home, enabling John's elderly Mum to have a short break with us for a few days. We travelled down to Shardlow, also managing to have some close friends out with us for a day, before winding and travelling back up to Findern. We said goodbye to John's Mum and 'replaced' her with our youngest son, Luke. He stayed with us for 3-4 days before he left us at Kidsgrove to catch the train home. We were then on our own as we completed the rest of the Four Counties Ring at a leisurely pace.

Early start to the Audlem Flight
Our final excursion of 2011 was a little unusual. Louise and her work colleagues arranged their Christmas celebrations at 'The Waterfront' at Barton Marina. What better way to travel than by boat !! We travelled down on the Saturday in cold and wet conditions, but moored right outside the venue. 14 people on board for drinks before the function was a little tight, but a great night was had by all. We staggered the 50 yards back to 'our room' at 2.30am and had a couple of friends stay on board with us and accompany us back to Kings Bromley the following day. A great weekend was had by all.

'Moonie' has performed well over the year. I have got to grips with servicing the engine and doing other maintenance jobs and thoroughly enjoyed learning about it. One or two minor issues to deal with such as new leisure batteries, we suffered a leaking pipe under the kitchen sink which was no doubt as a result of the previous harsh winter, we changed the 240v fridge for a 12v version and changed all the lighting to LED to lessen the drain on the batteries. We have also had a digital satellite system installed. 

We have had a great first year and really hope that 2012 will be even more fun.

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